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Today's Opinions

  • Changes to charter will shift control, cause collateral damage

    The proposed changes to restructure the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) have the potential to cause collateral damage that may not be evident as voters consider their positions on this charter change issue.
    I have the perspectives of former county councilor, former chair of the Utility Board and of a senior manager for a public power utility in Nebraska, and also had the opportunity to participate on the first Charter Change Committee when we initially discussed the issue.
    Since most of the obvious pros and cons will be discussed at the public forum, I want to share one perspective relative to my opening comment. As I have previously noted, electricity is considered by most folks to be as essential as air, water and food. Los Alamos has elected to provide not only its own electric power, but also water and gas. The ability to successfully fulfill this mission has been demonstrated for many years. One element of this success, a most vital one, is strategic planning.

  • Tourney raised thousands for students

    Los Alamos Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Council 3137 held our annual scholarship fundraising golf tournament on Sept. 26 at the Los Alamos golf course with more than 80 golfers participating, followed by a wonderful steak dinner at the hall.
    The tournament raised nearly $10,000 all of which will be used to award scholarships to worthy Los Alamos High School students. As the Knights look to support students with potential but from disadvantaged backgrounds, these scholarships have a real impact.
    We are grateful to the community of Los Alamos for your most generous support of our tournament. The outpouring of donations was overwhelming. We were honored to have on hand both our current and former pastors, Father Glenn Jones, and Father John Carney.
    Special thanks to go to the Knights Ladies Auxiliary and Bill Inkret and his band for making the dinner a success, Mhairi MacKay for helping us out again with the special fundraising hole in support of the Jaime Lee Ireland Scholarship Fund, and Donnie Torres for outstanding help with the tournament. We look forward to seeing everyone out again next year on Sept. 19, 2015!

    Jeff Brown
    2014 tournament chair 

  • Support GO Bond

    About seven bazillion ads and letters later, I’m hoping this is short enough (and absolutely important enough) to encourage Los Alamos County residents to support Library GO Bond Issue B on Nov. 4.
    In this year’s annual library report, dependence on our library system was confirmed:
    • 16,718 registered users
    • 26,170 reference questions
    • 314,612 library visits (87 percent of county residents are users)
    • 21,191 program attendees
    • 26,898 public Internet computers users
    Any long-time resident knows our circulation is roughly three times the national average. Both information and literacy are important to us and have been critical here since the 1940s.
    In addition to a public library system, Los Alamos County is gifted with both public school and university-level (UNM-LA) libraries reflected by excellent test results, literacy levels, and research availability through multiple sources. These libraries need our help, too.
    The critical need for passing Library GO Bond Issue B remains. Please vote yes. Expanding on the details of the three library systems benefitting from a passed GO Bond Issue B makes for a great reference question — at the library!
    Judy Crocker
    Los Alamos
     

  • Reconsider methods?

    The Pajarito Trail Fest was run on Oct. 4. The course, on public land, was marked with small pink flags. Fifteen minutes after the last runner passed, the race organizers had removed every trace of their trail markings.
    The continuing Los Alamos Pace Races stand in contrast. The courses, also on public land, are copiously marked with a white powder, perhaps chalk or flour.
    The race organizers make no attempt to clean up after themselves, and race markings, particularly the ones on rock, can be seen on Los Alamos trails for literally years after the race is over.
    The Trail Fest and others have shown that a race can be run without being a litterbug.
    For the public benefit, could the Pace Race organizers and participants reconsider their methods?
    Stuart Trigman
    Los Alamos
     

  • County Charter and BPU are a long way from resolution

    The issues raised by the proposed changes to the County Charter regarding the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) have been the subject of multiple letters to the editor. Those against this amendment seem to strike an overriding theme: some county council will abuse a strengthened oversight function over the BPU to the ultimate harm of the electorate; specifically, it could increase transfers from utilities to the general fund, resulting in higher taxes disguised as increased utility rates.
    As a current member of the county council, I know all too well that trust may be earned but cannot be legislated, much as competence or objectivity cannot be legislated either. The fact of the matter is that the county charter, either current or future, cannot ensure that there will never be untrustworthy, incompetent and/or biased councilors who may in turn choose untrustworthy, incompetent and/or biased members of the BPU, a board that controls a $90 million budget, nearly half the total county budget, and who cannot be removed except essentially if convicted of a felony. However, what the charter can do is to make any abuse by a public official as transparent, difficult and ultimately punishable by the electorate as possible.

  • Resist tampering …vote 'No' on charter

    I’m voting “no” on the charter amendment questions pertaining to proposed changes in governance of the Los Alamos County Utilities Department.
    I have had long experience as a customer and constituent dealing with both the county government and council, as well as with the Department of Public Utilities.
    During those many years I represented a private, nonprofit organization that was both one of the biggest property tax payers in the county, as well as one of the bigger utility customers. I have never been an employee of the county or the Utilities Department, I have never been a politician, nor am I a cheerleader for the Utility Department. Like most organizations, I think the Utility Department has plenty of room for improvement, but I see no connection between the proposed charter amendments and making improvements.
    I read the election materials published by the county and the logic of the proponents’ argument seems to be about their notion of ideal representative democracy rather than about improving effectiveness of the utilities operation.
    I respect their views and concerns, but I disagree that idealism and hypothetical concerns are what are important in deciding how to vote on this proposal.

  • Funds needed to complete missions

    Los Alamos is a unique, wonderful community with good schools, favorable climate, and beautiful scenery.
    However, there are those in our community who need some aid in order to enjoy these gifts.
    Fortunately, there are resources available to facilitate these needs, but they likewise need funding to accomplish their missions. My husband, Pat Soran, and I have been regular contributors to the United Way of Northern New Mexico (UWNNM) for several decades.
    We have watched our investment used wisely to “give a hand” to those who, for whatever reason, can use a boost.
    This year we are the Co-chairs of UWNNM Community Campaign, raising funds for the Community Action Fund (CAF). But until we started actually visiting many of the 20-plus recipients of last year’s CAF, we really had no idea how much they are able to do for our community’s needs.
    Without CAF funding, many of them would not be able to stay in existence today. In addition to grant funding, CAF contributions enable United Way to form partnerships and collaborations that pull resources and have them work together to directly address pressing challenges and fill gaps in services our region faces.

  • 'It's the jobs, stupid' still good political advice

    A reader writes about a recent column: “What was obvious was your dislike for (Gov.) Susana Martinez. Why not just devote the whole piece to this? Face it, she has done a decent job and will be reelected, probably by a pretty good margin.”
    Dislike has nothing to do with it. Yes, let’s devote a column to this. No, she hasn’t done a decent job. And her reelection will be a measure not of support but of dollars spent against the inept campaign of her opponent.
    The cast of “Saturday Night Live” was once called the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.” This is how I think of both Martinez and Barack Obama — both bright, promising people with narrow experience when they took office. Had they worked their way up instead of vaulting into the spotlight, the outcomes would be different for the state and the nation.
    Combine that with money and flimsy spending rules and you get a campaign as substantial as cotton candy.
    In 2010, the candidates were sniping at each other over Martinez’s birthplace, Diane Denish’s Christmas cards, and who was soft on perverts. Martinez campaigned against Bill Richardson.